Italian Desserts, Coffee, Pleasure.

Some time ago, I was asked by my editor for some great desserts to compliment coffee. And -- while I knew I had some great treasures buried away in my piles of recipes -- I knew that the holidays would stir up some great memories of past desserts and treats my family and I love to enjoy year after year.

On a recent trip to my home state, I stayed with both friends and family. The first night, I was treated to a wonderful meal prepared by my grandmother. It seems that every Italian-American I meet has their own slew of "Italian grandmother" stories to tell. I am no exception.

Homemade sauces, cooked vegetables, pasta, bread, and various meats adorned the table. And for dessert: my grandmother's cookies. Here is a woman who knows how to truly appreciate cookies. Cookies, it would seem, are always what the doctor ordered. They went well for any holiday -- even the made up ones we, as kids, would make up to give our grandmother an excuse to bake for us.

Even though I prefer to have them "grandmother-made", I reluctantly asked her for the recipe for one of my favorite cookies. We call them "footprint cookies" because the dough would be stretched to look like a footprint on the cookie sheet. To my moderate surprise and much to my chagrin, my grandmother relinquished her recipe.

These cookies, you'll find, are light and go very well not only with hot drinks but with just about anything. Many may prefer to take them with hot tea, but I assure you, dear reader, that that they compliment a hot cup of cappuccino rather nicely. I hope that your family will embrace the easiness and simplicity of -- and the great joy making and eating -- these cookies have brought to my family and me. Below you'll find a list of ingredients and the steps needed to prepare and bake them.

Italian Footprint Cookies

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 cups sifted flour
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla
    Beat the sugar and eggs until blended to a cream color.

    Add the dry ingredients and vanilla. Scoop out with a spoon and stretch out onto a cookie sheet. Bake at 350F for 10 minutes.

This next dessert is a very special family treat. It ranks up with a fine tiramisu and has been an established family-time dessert. For those health conscious readers, I apologize in advance!

This cake dessert is a social dessert -- meaning, it is best appreciated when shared with the company of others. Its simultaneous lightness and richness compliment the taking of espresso prior to or after the dessert itself.

Christmas Casatta

    Whip 2 lb. ricotta cheese until of a fine consistency. Add sugar to taste while beating the cheese.

    Stir in small, chopped pieces of chocolate, toasted finely chopped almonds, and chopped cinnamon sticks.

    Line a serving dish with lady fingers, sliced strips of genoise, or slices of angel food cake. Layer the filling and cookies/cake -- beginning and ending with the cookies/cake.

From my family to yours!